Nortel Networks is taking its place alongside Microsoft at the launch of Microsofts Office Communications Server 2007 to introduce what officials bill as the largest suite of products and services built around the new Microsoft Unified Communications offering.
Although Microsoft at its Oct. 16 launch will have a range of partners on hand with varying support for its OCS 2007, Nortel will assert its primacy as Microsofts Innovative Communications Alliance partner at the event.
"Well be the only communications and networking vendor—there will be no Cisco [Systems] or Avaya there at the launch. The train had already left the station when we started the alliance [last year]. We are aligned," said Ruchi Prasad, vice president and general manager of Nortels Innovative Communications Alliance program with Microsoft, in Dallas.
"What you will see in the market is a number of different PBX vendors offering a wide variety of different levels of integration with Microsoft. Nortel is clearly deeper and stronger [in its integration] across a wider base compared to many competitors," said IDC analyst Abner Germanow.
Click here to read more about the OCS 2007 launch.
Nortel, starting with its three primary IP PBX systems—the CS 1000 enterprise PBX, the CS 2100 carrier grade IP PBX and its carrier grade CS 2000 Call Server—implemented native integration with Microsofts Office Communications Server 2007.
"Whether you deploy [customer premises equipment] or youre hosted, the end-user experience should be the same. Our native software integration scales from tens to thousands of users and works with existing dial plans," Prasad said.
All three of those telephony systems support the Office Communicator 2007 client and use Microsofts Active Directory, enabling instant messaging, presence, conferencing and remote call control for any desk phone links to the Nortel IP PBXs.
Prasad said that with the integration, Nortel is adding value to OCS 2007 by allowing its call server to act as a backup to OCS 2007 in the event of a failure and by giving users "seamless access" to unified communications functions from wherever they are. "When a call comes into my office number and Im in China on my computer, I can see it and decide what I want to do with that call," she said.
Nortel also upgraded its reservation-less Multimedia Conferencing system to work with OCS 2007 and allow users to access a conference using a desktop client, analog phone, digital or IP phone.
"You can dial in from anywhere and any device, and you can convert an audio conference to a desktop video conference," Prasad said.
For branch offices, Nortel enhanced its Nortel Integrated Branch "pizza box," which combines routing, switching, security, VOIP (voice over IP) and IP V 6 support with a new module that implements Microsofts Mediation Server. The Nortel Secure Router 4134 also implements a Session Initiation Protocol gateway to allow customers to centrally deploy OCS 2007 and extend its Unified Communications functions to branch office users.
The Nortel Business Optimized Networking portfolio launched in the spring at the Interop show also was enhanced to provide load balancing for OCS 2007 as well as application acceleration for Microsofts SharePoint and Outlook Web Access. Nortel officials claimed that its Application Accelerator products can improve the response times of those applications across a WAN link by up to 30 times.
Nortel, through its LG-Nortel joint venture with LG Electronics, also launched three new phones in the new IP Phone 8500 series designed to work with Office Communicator 2007. They support directory dialing, calendar integration, call diversion and presence checking.
As a part of the ICA, Nortel also will emphasize the services it is ramping up across the globe to help customers design, deploy and maintain OCS 2007. At the launch, Nortel will announce that it now has more than 120 Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers and 40 technicians certified to support Exchange 2007. Nortels plan for OCS 2007 is to have more than 100 technicians certified to support it by early next year.
"We are doubling down our investment in global services and channel partners. Our channel partner strategy is still in the works, but Bell Canada talked about selling our solutions and Dell will resell ICA and enterprise solutions and ICA services," Prasad said.
The new and enhanced offerings are due early next year.
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.